Personalized Learning is Key to Meeting Students’ Needs in Continuing Education

Beginning in elementary classrooms, personalized learning is gaining momentum. In specific case studies, younger students’ test scores and overall achievement increased by 30%, proving that these strategies are effective.

The Role of Technology in Personalized Learning

Students’ dependency on devices and computers is a major factor. Coincidentally, technology makes individualized learning easier than paper-and-pencil teaching techniques. Technology has made it easier than ever to meet students’ individual needs. It’s possible to track progress and make adjustments along the way.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota asserts that by using digital tools that students are already engaging in (videos, editing software, animation, and social media) teachers can engage students and relate to them on a closer level. Even when delivering instruction, teachers can use multimedia to deliver what was once boring instruction

How Individualized Learning Reaches More Students

Personalized learning works well with project-based learning and design thinking, two strategies that are seen widely in the fields of healthcare, education, and business. Jeffrey S. Russell, the Dean of Continuing Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, agrees that the old system of cookie-cutter curriculum is giving way to personalized learning.

One standard for mastery/non-mastery simply doesn’t work for every student. Personalized learning address the obvious: that students start every course with a different knowledge base and have different abilities.

What does personalized learning look like?

According to Education Elements, an education website that focuses on younger students rather than continuing education outlines how these strategies can be utilized. It’s not a far reach to understand how the same principles can be applied to older learners.

In personalized learning, the teacher becomes more of a facilitator. Also, there are a few key features of personalized learning, no matter the age of the student:

  • Targeted instruction

Targeted instruction begins with student- and teacher-created “playlists” of activities, resources, and more that can help the student move through the material in a way that makes sense to them. A pre-assessment is a must. It sets a benchmark for each student.

  • Data-driven decisions

Again, a pre-assessment is necessary to determine what needs must be addressed throughout the course. Then, the right software can create an individual learning plan for each student, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. This is also crucial for group-based learning to work as intended.

  • Flexible content

Fluid, day-to-day schedules that allow students to work on a different objective each day are great for students who get bored easily or may have several areas to improve. Keeping their content flexible ensures that they don’t lose interest or get overwhelmed with one concept.

  • Student reflection and ownership

For younger students, this can mean involving them in conversations about their grades or flexible seating, but for continuing education, it is more about setting personal goals and working to achieve them. This is done with check-ins and self-assessments on a daily or weekly basis.

One unique feature of personalized learning is that there is a unique possibility for failure within the course without failing the entire thing. This sets students up for real-life situations they will face in the workplace, but not something that traditional education systems have been able to replicate.

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